After nearly a year and a half of confinement, beer drinkers are more than ready to celebrate the arrival of summer, and brewers large and small are rolling out summer packaging for the occasion, whether toasting the great outdoors, professional sports teams, or Americana. “Everyone understands the aspiration of a summer vacation,” says Jon London, CMO at Mass. Bay Brewing Co., which is once again releasing the Harpoon Summer Vacation variety pack ($15-$16 a 12-pack of 12-ounce cans or bottles), featuring three containers of four different brews. “For retailers, special summer packaging helps drive incremental and impulse purchases.” This year the brewer’s Summer Vacation pack showcases Harpoon IPA, Camp Wannamango pale ale, DragonWeisse session sour, and Big League hazy IPA.
Among larger beer brands, this summer Constellation Brands’ Corona Extra and Pacifico are highlighting their support for environmental programming—the “Protect Our Beaches” campaign for the former and partnership with The Conservation Alliance for the latter—via limited-edition secondary packaging. “Our summer packaging showcases a consumer call to action to support Pacifico Preserves, our commitment to preserving outdoor adventure, and features our partnership with The Conservation Alliance,” explains Pacifico senior director of brand marketing Alex Schultz. Environmental sustainability is a top concern among Gen Zers, the brand’s core consumers, Schultz says.
Anheuser-Busch InBev’s (A-B InBev) Michelob Ultra Pure Gold is also touting its ties to sustainability this summer with special packaging announcing that the brand is now brewed with 100% renewable electricity from solar power. The USDA-certified organic lager has partnered with Latin music artist Maluma, and limited-edition 12-pack packaging (price varies by market) incorporates Maluma’s image and signature.
Yuengling lager’s special-edition packaging this summer touts the brand’s support of both Major League Baseball and America’s veterans. For the second season in a row, Yuengling is the official lager of the Philadelphia Phillies, and once again 12-pack cans ($10) and 16-ounce cans ($2) will feature the team’s logo. “The special-edition retro cans pair two of Pennsylvania’s beloved icons,” says Jennifer Yuengling, vice president of operations at D.G. Yuengling & Son. “It’s a great opportunity to connect with fans, whether at home, on-premise, or at the stadium.” The cans will be available throughout the season, she notes, and will be expanded into the postseason, if applicable. Yuengling has also rolled out camouflage cans this summer in partnership with military veteran nonprofit Team Red, White & Blue. The cans invite consumers to donate to the organization, which focuses on veteran health and wellness issues.
Beer retailers say that the best-selling summer packages tend to be those comprising seasonal brews and packs that play up fun summer activities. “Seasonals are still as popular as ever,” notes Dawn Slater, purchasing and operations supervisor at the Big Daddy’s Wine & Liquor chain in south Florida. “People want to try different beers.” Phillip Altherr, general manager at Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits in Annapolis, Maryland, agrees, noting that summer variety packs are usually strong performers, particularly if they feature a beer that isn’t available elsewhere. Doug Betza, manager of Western Beverages in Clifton, New Jersey, adds that limited supply of summer variety packs can spark demand. “People may only be able to get some of these variety packs once or twice before the supply runs out,” he notes.
Slater believes that packaging that’s “fun and relatable to summer activities” stands out. “If someone’s on the way to the beach and sees a beer with imagery associated with the beach, they’re more likely to grab that item,” she remarks. “Summer is about getting outside and hanging out with friends at barbecues and beaches. Themes along these lines will inspire people to grab products that make them feel relaxed.”